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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When computer specialist and former CIA employee Edward Snowden blew the whistle on NSA's mass surveillance techniques, controversy escalated around the world. Whether Snowden was a hero or a traitor divided public opinion. Whatever our feelings are about the whistleblower, his revelations have created an almost paranoid concern that our digital exploits are being watched.

Since the NSA documents were leaked in June this year, a string of spying scandals have surfaced, including that the agency spied on the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. According to a recent survey following the NSA revelations, Germans' opinion of their long-term ally have plunged as mistrust in the United States soared - a sentiment that is felt around much of the world.

Snowden, alongside his journalist sidekick Glen Greenwald may have taken it upon themselves to unravel to the world the truth and many may be asking, if it wasn't for Snowden and Greenwald, who would protect our civil liberties? The Switzerland-based telco Swisscom claims to have the answer.

An alternative to the U.S. techno giants

As the spying storm shows no sign of settling, Swisscom has been busy building a means to loosen the grip of the U.S. technology giants. Instead of operating on-site, cloud computing enables businesses to utilise services such as business software and email remotely. Not only does this cost cuts but it also gives IT departments greater flexibility. However, in the wake of the scandal that NSA has been gathering private data from U.S. tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Apple, concern has surfaced that the privacy of cloud services can be compromised. With such pressing anxieties being at the vanguard of company issues, a niche has certainly opened for alternative technology providers that are more sensitive to protecting user data.

Swisscom is pioneering the way in creating an alternative to the U.S. technology giants that might have an NSA siphon of data. In storing data in the "Swiss Cloud", Swisscom could offer higher levels of security from government watchers. This heightened level of security is, Swisscom claims, unavailable elsewhere in the world.

Switzerland's strict data privacy laws

Unlike the U.S., in which the 2001 Patriot Act and the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act enables U.S. intelligence agencies to implement mass information gathering, Swisscom would have to have a formal request from a prosecutor before the access to data was authorised.

Talking to Reuters, Swisscom's head of IT services, Andreas Koenig said as the technology to counter data surveillance progresses, it will make more sense to store data in locations where laws make it more difficult for sensitive information to be retrieved.

"Data protection and privacy is a long tradition in Switzerland, and that's why it's pretty difficult to get to something," Koenig told Reuters.

In the wake of the recent revelations, foreign intelligence access to data has unnerved many nations. Swisscom wants to be at the forefront of implementing technology to monitor and detect illegal threats.

"If you are a provider in a cloud environment you need to apply the highest standards of security you can get," added Koenig.

It is no secret that Switzerland has long profited from offering discreet banking services to foreigners. Because of Swisscom's commitment to upholding privacy and data security of its citizens and those banking in the country, the NSA surveillance scandal is a particularly sensitive issue in Switzerland, hence Swisscom's rush to build cloud services that counter NSA spying.

While the "Swiss Cloud" might initially sound like the answer to counter U.S. surveillance, there are drawbacks, namely the data has to be located in Switzerland for privacy to be guaranteed. As Arstechnica wrote in response to the suggestion the "Swiss Cloud" will offer a level of security unparalleled anywhere else in the world:

"Of course, that could only be true for data that moves locally in Switzerland. There is no guarantee of privacy as soon as the information crosses the border."

With more than $2 trillion in financial institutions across Switzerland, it is intelligible why the Swiss are seeking measures to counter foreign intelligence spying. Whether a cloud that protects data privacy as long as it remains in Switzerland is the answer to counter spying remains to be seen. Perhaps the real way to counter foreign intelligence spying would be for nations to adopt the stringent data policies Switzerland adheres to that would mean a formal request has to be made by a prosecutor before personal data can be accessed.

--Written by Gabrielle Pickard Whitehead for MainStreet